Wow. I really do appreciate all of your comments. Multiple perspectives only helps broaden my understanding.
J and I were at a Pets Show yesterday and picked up a variety of new treats to try. So far she is a fan of the Benny Bully's dehydrated beef liver infused w/ pumpkin or sweet potato treats. We also got an oral hygeine water additive to help with her stinky breath
and I have some busisness cards for obdience/behaviour modification resources in the area.
Loki Love - Your point about "a dog that makes its own decisions will become a more confident dog" rang very clear with me. Thank you. At the puppy mill she was likely never allowed to make her own decisions and was forced or "tricked" into doing whatever the workers demanded of her.
Longblades - While I see where you are coming from, to say that J is threatening her by putting his face in front of hers, is certainly exagerated. Elsee is not as timid or fragile as I may have made her out to sound (not anymore, at least). Like I've mentioned...she doesn't resist J's attention at all. And when he does ask for kisses he gives her his cheek and does not look her in the eye.
Marko - Thank you for your kind words and encouragement.
Elsee has come so far in these 5 weeks and has increased energy and curiosity when we are outside meeting other dogs and owners. Overall, what I am gleaning from all of your posts is that we need to be fostering the development of her confidence. I can tell that she has it in her to be a very happy pup but never learnt how
to interact with humans or dogs in the environment in which she was raised.
Our strategy moving forward:
1. J taking over as primary care giver.
2. Trying not to pick her up to put her on her feet when it's time to go outside (that one's hard!) or carry her to the bedroom at night. Actually last night she followed me to the bedroom really nicely - and was rewarded with a liver treat
3. Find an obidience class for basic training and comands - which will help bond J and Elsee and help Elsee learn what behaviour her humans expect from her. (and that what we expect will not cause her harm)
4. Doggy day care (one day/week?) so she can learn how to act like a regular dog, by example of how the other dogs are socializing - without her mama present to offer constant reassurance.
I hope everyone is enjoying the long weekend. Oh happy spring!